Judith & Joyce Scott
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Judith Scott and her twin sister, Joyce, were born into a middle-class family in Cincinnati, Ohio. Unlike her twin, Judith carried the extra chromosome of Down syndrome.  Following an attack of Scarlet Fever in infancy, she also lost her hearing, although this would not be recognized until many years later.  For seven years she and Joyce shared an idyllic country childhood rich in color and texture, but one lived without words.  

Her deafness undiagnosed, Judith was tested  only verbally for entrance to the sole classroom in Cincinnati for children with disabilities, and was consequently considered uneducable.  Thus all possibilities for education were lost and her fate was sealed.  When she was 7 years old, her parents, acting on medical and pastoral advice, made the heart-rending decision to send her away, her lack of hearing being misinterpreted as severe retardation.  She would spend the following 35-years separated from her family as a ward of the State of Ohio in Dickensian institutions for the disabled and discarded.

In 1986, Judith’s life underwent a dramatic turn when her twin, following an epiphanal moment of insight, took it upon herself to become Judith’s legal guardian.  After long and difficult negotiations, and over the objections of their mother, Judith went to live with Joyce and her family in California, moving in time to a nearby board-and-care home.  Soon after, she was enrolled in the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, the first organization in the world to provide studio facilities to artists with disabilities.  Here, for almost two years, Judith showed no evidence of artistic interest or ability.  Then, after observing a class being given by a visiting fiber artist, Judith spontaneously began to create the unique sculptures, for which she has since become famous.

Judith’s innate talent was quickly recognized, and she was given freedom to scour the facility for whatever materials she wanted.  Nothing was rejected and objects of every size and shape — both private and public — were gathered up.  Day by day, week by week, and sometimes for months on end, these prizes would be gradually wrapped, woven and entwined in yarns and threads of carefully selected hues, until Judith, and Judith alone, decided that the piece was complete. 

Judith ScottWork would immediately begin on the next sculpture, which might be small, but as time went by, could grow to be almost unmanageable in size, some reaching nine feet in length.  Within the core of each piece might be hidden a special talisman of a significance known to Judith alone.  With unflagging intensity, Judith worked five days a week for eighteen years, producing over 200 cocoon-like sculptures which today are found in museums and private collections around the world.  Judith died in her sister’s arms in March, 2005, having lived 49 years beyond her allotted span at birth —  the last 18 in blissful, unrestrained creativity.







“One of the most important artists of the Twentieth Century, not only in art brut, but also in the context of contemporary art.”

— Dr Johann Feilacher
Director, Museum Gugging



“Making something out of nothing, or precisely, luring something from the unconscious and giving it material form is the closest thing to real magic there is in this world.”
Michael Bonesteel
Art Critic



“One of the most important bodies of work—‘Insider’ or ‘Outsider’—produced anywhere, and under any circumstances, in the past twenty years.”
— Matthew Higgs Director
White Columns, New York


"...perhaps the finest essay, the most exquisitely written in our museum's sixteen year history, was that of writer, Joyce Scott, twin sister to the world famous outsider artist who transcended limitations of deafness and Downs Syndrome, Judith Scott.”
— Rebecca Alban Hoffberger
Director, American Visionary Museum